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'I am tired, sad and kind': self-evaluation and symptoms of depression in adolescents

Hards, E., Orchard, F. and Reynolds, S. (2023) 'I am tired, sad and kind': self-evaluation and symptoms of depression in adolescents. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health, 17. 126. ISSN 1753-2000

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1186/s13034-023-00661-4


Although self-evaluation i.e., negative perceptions of the self is a common depression symptom in adolescents, little is known about how this population spontaneously describe their self and available data on adolescent self-evaluation is limited. This study aimed to generate and report on a list of words used by healthy adolescents and those with elevated depression symptoms to describe their self-evaluation. Linguistic analysis (LIWC) was then used to compare self-evaluation between the two groups. Adolescents aged 13-18 years (n = 549) completed a measure of depression symptoms (the Mood and Feelings Questionnaire) and a measure of self-evaluation (the Twenty Statements Test). Responses were then collated and presented in a freely accessible resource and coded using Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) analysis. Self-evaluation words generated by adolescents were uploaded to a publicly accessible site for future research: . Adolescents with elevated depression symptoms described themselves as 'Tired' and 'Sad' more than healthy adolescents. However, there was no difference between groups in respect to their use of specific positive, prosocial self-evaluation 'words' (i.e., 'Caring' and 'Kind). Following Linguistic Inquiry Word Count (LIWC) analysis, adolescents with elevated depression symptoms generated significantly more words than healthy adolescents, generated more words classified as negative emotion, anxiety and sadness and generated fewer words classified positive emotion than healthy adolescents. As predicted by the cognitive model of depression, our findings suggest that adolescents with elevated symptoms of depression generated more negative self-evaluation words than healthy adolescents; however they also generated prosocial positive self-evaluation words at the same rate as non-depressed adolescents. These novel data therefore identify an 'island' of resilience that could be targeted and amplified by psychological treatments for adolescent depression, and thus provide an additional technique of change.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Interdisciplinary centres and themes > Charlie Waller Institute
ID Code:114105
Uncontrolled Keywords:Adolescents, Self-concept, Self-evaluation, Cognitive theory, Twenty statements test, Depression


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